Editor's note: This is a guest post by Henry Kyambalesa (PhD), a resident contributor to Zambian Economist. He is a Zambian academic currently residing in Colorado, USA.
The fate of less-developed countries (LDCs) in general, and that of African countries in particular, has become one of modern civilization's major sources of concern. The extreme and persistent poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, and unemployment which are currently commonplace in the typical developing country are certainly unprecedented in human history. And, very unfortunately, there are clearly no easy answers or quick fixes to the seemingly self-perpetuating problems facing the developing world.
The recent revelation that the Patriotic Front (PF) government is seriously considering the prospect of establishing an Industrial Development Corporation (INDECO) is, no doubt, disconcerting to some of us who witnessed the rampant shortages of commodities, smuggling, and stunted economic growth associated with socialist policies during the UNIP era.
And those long queues for essential commodities like sugar and cooking oil, which would start building up as early as 03:00 hours even without the assurance that everyone in the queue would eventually buy the commodities they needed!
What is really the new rationale for resurrecting the defunct INDECO—an omnibus monopoly that played a significant role in driving our country from a potentially wealthy nation to a nation saddled with unprecedented socio-economic malaise? And do we really need to create such an enormous consumer of our beloved country's meager foreign exchange reserves?
Article 112(b) of the current Constitution—the 1996 Republican constitution—gives us guidance on this matter; it asserts that "the State shall endeavor to create an economic environment which shall encourage individual initiative and self-reliance among the people and promote private investment."
In addition to this proviso, a Clause proclaiming that "the State shall not nationalize or expropriate private property" should have been enshrined in the Republican constitution to ensure that investors know without a shadow of a doubt what the country's stance on local and foreign investment is.
Clearly, what our beloved country needs now is the creation of what may be referred to as a "social welfare state"—that is, a dynamic free-market economy that has a human face; or, more precisely, a socio-economic setting that simultaneously provides for a highly competitive business system and an effective mechanism for re-distributing wealth to the needy.
Creation of a socialist state, on the other hand, is an exercise in futility because there is apparently nothing meaningful that can be achieved through a centrally controlled socio-economic system. Simply, socialism is an ideology that belongs to the archives!
In fact, the creation of INDECO will certainly put our country at odds with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and our development partners—institutions and countries which have worked so hard in bolstering our efforts at meeting the development needs of our country and the needs and expectations of the majority of our people since 1991.
That will leave only profit-seeking commercial creditors to lend us money at exorbitant interest rates!
1. Africa's Plight
During the 1950s and early 1960s, when most African countries gained their political independence from European colonial powers, Africans harbored very high and somewhat unrealistic expectations about the socio-economic prospects of their native countries. Equating independence with not only self-rule, but also with genuine democracy and prosperity, they strongly believed that the transfer of political power from colonial to African hands would create greater opportunities for them to enhance their socio-economic well-being
Unfortunately, freedom or "uhuru" could not deliver its promises, and disappointment soon ensued. The early euphoria, therefore, faded within a few years of political freedom. In short, the African continent has been wallowing in waves of misfortunes from the time of what has come to be characterized as "nominal" or "flag" independence.
Today, much of the continent is equated with a catalogue of unprecedented socio-economic ills, including famine, malnutrition, ignorance, poverty, disease, economic mismanagement, corruption, civil and tribal conflicts, stagnant and declining economies, low per capita incomes, political strife, and rampant crime and lawlessness.
But how could a continent endowed with abundant natural resources have become the least enviable place on Earth, apparently lagging in all aspects of socio-economic development?
While European colonialism and other external factors cannot be entirely exonerated, Africa's plight is largely a culmination of both incompetent and despotic leadership. Firstly, indigenous political leaders imposed one-party political regimes on their compatriots. By their nature, such regimes could not tolerate dissent. Thus, dictatorships mushroomed during the one-party era; the unchecked political authority generated absolute power that ended up corrupting absolutely and simultaneously resulted in gross mismanagement of national economies.
Secondly, the military, partly inspired by the lack of both a mechanism for peaceful dispensation of political power and mass-participation in the development process, ventured into the realm of governance. But unfortunately, military leaders could not fare any better. Driving civil society underground, like their civilian counterparts, they used "one-size-fits-all" types of political parties. Ultimately, they also lamentably failed to redress the socio-economic woes facing their countries.
Stuck at a political, social, and economic cul-de-sac, the African continent seemed to be heading to calamity when the ripples of democratization and freedom from Eastern Europe reached its shores. Taking advantage of the new wind of change, the resilient African civil society got out of hibernation and compelled existing regimes, both civilian and military, to liberalize economic as well as political systems.
After many years of despair, Africans reconnected with expectations for a higher standard of living!
But, once again, the renewed sense of hope is rapidly waning due to the realization that it takes more than democracy to redress decades of socio-economic decay and backwardness. By itself, democracy, in spite of its promises, is not a panacea for the seemingly perpetual problems facing contemporary Africa.
And, as experience has taught us, adherence to socialist ideals can certainly do more harm than good to a country's development prospects!
2. The Zambian Context
In Zambia, socialist state policies barred both local and foreign private investors from certain commercial and industrial sectors of the country's economy and recommended the creation of state and parastatal companies to operate in such sectors of the economy from the late 1960s to 1991. The former president, Dr. Kenneth D. Kaunda, made the policy pronouncements which ushered in an era of both parastatal and state enterprises in his April 1968, August 1969, and November 1970 addresses to the National Council of his political party, the United National Independence Party (UNIP).
Naturally, the monopolistic position enjoyed by state and parastatal companies culminated in complacence and gross inefficiency because, in the absence of competition, they apparently did not find it necessary to seek or use technological inventions and innovations that would have improved the quality and quantity of their outputs. This, in part, prompted the next government of the late President Frederick J. T. Chiluba to embark on a privatization program upon his inauguration in October 1991 in an attempt to boost competition in commerce and industry.
Privatization of state-owned business undertakings, as Chilipamushi has noted, can stimulate private investment, give economic power to a greater number of people through stock ownership, promote competition and consequently encourage efficiency in commerce and industry, beef up government coffers through the sale of government holdings in state enterprises, as well as ease the financial burden of state companies on the public treasury.
And, as Pitelis and Clarke have pointed out, the reduction of government involvement in commerce and industry which follows the privatization of state enterprises results in reduced public-sector borrowing and government spending.
So, history should offer us guidance on this matter. Socialist policies are simply a pain in the neck! There is, therefore, no justification for re-introducing an ideology that economically traumatized our people from the late 1960s to 1991.
3. A Government with Limited Functions
In this section, let us briefly examine a point of view advocated by the founders of the free enterprise ideology, that a government should have very limited functions. In their view, "That government is best which governs least."
Essentially, they advocated for a government whose functions are limited to the following: protecting private property, providing for public safety and security, enforcing business and other forms of contracts among individuals and/or institutions, inducing (rather than performing) commercial and industrial activities, and, among other things, facilitating the provision of quality education and healthcare.
There are, however, many factors which may lead to an increase in the functions of a country's national government, such as the following: increases in the country's population, an unprecedented number of demands by various interest groups for government involvement in addressing their needs, and, among other things, problems brought about by a multitude of natural and human-induced calamities.
There is no doubt that these and other factors can put pressure on a country's government to expand existing public services and facilities and/or to introduce new ones. Franklin D. Roosevelt, United States president between 1933 and 1945, must have had these and/or other similar kinds of factors in mind when he said: "As new conditions and problems arise beyond the power of men and women to meet as individuals, it becomes the duty of ... government[s] ... to find new remedies with which to meet them."
Nevertheless, the proper governmental role in a modern economy, as Michael E. Porter has advised, should be that of serving as "a catalyst and challenger ... to encourage—or even push—companies to raise their aspirations and move to higher levels of competitive performance."
Mr. William J. Clinton, former U.S. president, espoused this point of view in general terms when he stipulated his Administration's desire in the State of the Union Address of January 27, 1998 thus: "[We need to] build a government that [functions as] ... a catalyst for new ideas, and, most of all, a government that gives ... people the tools they need to make the most of their own lives."
In serving the business community and other segments of society as a "catalyst and challenger," a government needs to provide adequately for various kinds of guarantees, inducements and essential public services and facilities, such as the following:
1) A welldeveloped transportation infrastructure and adequate transportation services to industrial, commercial, and residential areas to ease or facilitate the distribution of production inputs and finished products;
2) Adequate public services (including police protection, fire protection, public utilities, and decent housing), as well as telecommunications, educational, vocational, health, and recreational facilities;
3) Equitable sales, corporate, and other taxes, as well as tax concessions and inducements that are more attractive than those in alternative countries or regions which investors are likely to consider for investment;
4) A viable and efficient financial system, including the Lusaka Stock Exchange (LuSE) and all other financial institutions in the country;
5) A reversal of the current emphasis on stabilizing inflation at the expense of job creation and economic growth by placing greater emphasis on job creation and economic growth through low interest rates and progressive reductions in taxes in order to stimulate investment, savings, and consumption;
6) An ambitious program designed to lure private investments which can lead to the creation of new jobs, facilitate socio-economic development, and create a more competitive economic setting that can promote efficiency, as well as compel business entities to improve the quality of their products, and charge relatively lower prices;
7) Political and civic leaders who are fair and honest in their dealings with private business institutions, and stable economic policies (including a formal assurance against nationalization and/or expropriation of privately owned business undertakings by the national government);
8) Political and civic leaders who are genuine and resolute in their fight against the scourge of corruption in governmental and non-governmental settings;
9) Less bureaucratic licensing, import, export, and other procedures, and adequate information about investment and marketing problems and opportunities in the various sectors of a country's economy and in cross-border markets;
10) A system of justice that is fair, impartial and independent in both word and deed; and
11) A social safety net designed to adequately cater to the needs of economically disadvantaged members of society that is not subject to political meddling or manipulation.
These inducements, services, facilities, and guarantees, among a host of other things, can enable economic units to operate more efficiently and eventually deliver economic and social outputs to society at reasonable costs and prices.
As Alassane Ouattara of Côte d'Ivoire has advised, therefore, there is an urgent need for national leaders to re-define the roles of their governments away from direct involvement in commercial and industrial activities toward the provision of inducements, guarantees and essential public services and facilities to their primary stakeholders.
4. Competitive Business Entities
In practically all affluent nations of the world today, business undertakings are among major institutions which are in the forefront searching for efficient and effective ways and means for application in the creation and delivery of goods and services. In these nations, business entities, as Davis and Frederick have noted, are greatly depended upon to keep the stream of discoveries flowing in the form of consumer goods and services.
This certainly calls for competitive business systems, which are generally and conspicuously lacking in much of the developing world due, in part, to monopolistic government policies and regulations.
In Zambia, the contemplated resurrection of INDECO is certainly going to stifle competition and innovation in commerce and industry in the national economy.
There are many benefits which culminate from "competition," which the Union Bank of Switzerland, quoted by J. A. Reinecke and others, has described as "the incentive to do better." Firstly, it can prompt suppliers to become more innovative in order to satisfy the changing and divergent needs and expectations of consumers in an efficient manner.
Secondly, heightened competition in a country's economy can lead to lower prices, high-quality products, and greater variety and abundance of products in the economy. Moreover, competition generally cures the problem of black markets since it entices suppliers to increase their outputs in order to benefit from economies of scale, thereby saturating a country's markets with a wide range of products.
5. Promotion of Self-Employment
Instead of reviving failed socialist ideals, we should, among other things, be promoting the operations of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). As the United Nations has maintained, a growing body of empirical evidence supports the widely held view that SMEs are instrumental to economic development. There is, therefore, a need to make an earnest effort aimed at promoting SMEs for the following specific reasons, among others:
1) Alternative employment: SMEs will create employment opportunities for talented Zambians and family members who cannot find jobs in large business establishments;
2) Economic empowerment: SMEs will collectively function as a vehicle through which our Government will economically empower its people by enabling them to participate actively and directly in their country's commercial and industrial activities;
3) Income distribution: SMEs will facilitate the generation of wealth for all sectors of our country's economy and thereby reduce existing income disparities;
4) Economic backbone: SMEs operated by Zambians will function as the backbone of our country's economy because it will be both indigenous and permanent, as Mr. Andrew Sardanis has maintained; and
5) Goods and services: SMEs participate in elevating their host communities' social and economic welfare through the provision of various kinds of needed goods and services.
In this regard, there is a need to support all fields of entrepreneurial endeavor—that is, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, mining, retailing, wholesaling, and services. Preferential treatment shall, however, be accorded to investments in the local production of building materials, hardware, and agricultural machinery and equipment.
6. Foreign Direct Investment
We should also continue to embark on a sustained effort aimed at attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). Such investment, whether it is made in a country's export processing zone (EPZ) or main economy, is generally regarded as an important element in a country's quest for both accelerated and protracted socio-economic development.
As such, the promotion of foreign investment has become one of the major components of the economic policy regimes of apparently all countries of the world today. In fact, even countries which already have strong economies—such as G-7 nations, Sweden, and Australia, among many others—and have historically relied mainly on local investment capital have generated ambitious policies designed to attract foreign private investment in recent years.
But countries which have a quest for FDI should not expect such investment to flow into their economies like manna from heaven; a great deal of governmental effort is needed to lure foreign investors.
It is, therefore, important for national governments which are yearning for foreign participants in their economies to create a conducive investment environment if they are to succeed in their quest for foreign investment. Such an environment should provide for attractive tax incentives, adequate skilled labor, a network of business support services and institutions, well-developed infrastructure, and, among a host of other things, protracted industrial harmony.
Ernst & Young, Inc. has identified other important aspects which should constitute such an investment environment; these are: trade liberalization, revocation of price controls, a sound legal framework designed to protect private investment and facilitate the functioning of a market economy, a well-developed financial market, good infrastructure (including energy, water, telecommunications, and transport facilities), governmental assistance in nurturing entrepreneurial and management skills, and government programs designed to reduce the negative impacts of a transition to a free-market economy on vulnerable individuals and institutions.
Mallampally and Sauvant have provided a broader assessment of the significance of FDI to a developing country: "Not only can FDI add to investible resources and capital formation, but, perhaps more important, it is also a means of transferring production technology, skills, innovative capacity, and organizational and managerial practices between locations, as well as of accessing international marketing networks."
In general, proponents of foreign investment often cite the potential benefits of multinational enterprises (MNEs) to host nations in discerning the necessity of such investment, since MNEs are generally regarded as the vectors of FDI. They claim that MNEs:
1) Make it possible for countries to gain access to investment capital and advanced technology;
2) Contribute to the creation of employment opportunities;
3) Introduce a diversity of new products in host countries, thereby affording consumers greater choice;
4) Contribute to the tax revenues of both national and local governments;
5) Promote exports, thereby contributing to the generation of foreign exchange;
6) Boost competition in host countries and, thus, prompt local businesses to seek greater efficiency in their operations;
7) Promote local businesses which supply the inputs and/or render the services they need to support their operations; and
8) Contribute to the development of managerial talent in host countries.
The operations of multinational companies are, of course, not without costs or disadvantages to host countries; critics of such companies often claim that they, among other things:
1) Contribute to the self-perpetuating dependence on foreign technology;
2) Cause dislocations in a host country's balance of payments, such as when they import raw materials, repatriate profits, and/or engage in transfer pricing;
3) Subject local business entities which do not have the necessary material and financial resources to compete effectively with MNEs get subjected to unfair competition in industrial, consumer and labor markets;
4) Contribute to the degradation of the physical environment through air, water and solid-waste pollution; and
5) Introduce foreign social values and/or consumption patterns that are likely to disrupt locally cherished moral and cultural practices.
For countries which are fruitlessly striving to break the bondage of their people to misery, want and destitution, the potential benefits of foreign investment certainly outweigh the potential costs of such investment. In fact, the costs often associated with FDI and the MNE are normal effects of a live economy which a host government should be in a position to reduce to acceptable levels through regulatory and administrative mechanisms.
With respect to developing countries like Zambia, Mallampally and Sauvant have provided the ensuing broad assessment of the significance of foreign investment to their quest for heightened and sustained socio-economic development:
"Not only can FDI add to investible resources and capital formation, but, perhaps more important, it is also a means of transferring production technology, skills, innovative capacity, and organizational and managerial practices between locations, as well as of accessing international marketing networks."
7. Economic Diversification
The Zambian government also needs to step up current efforts to diversify the national economy in order to lessen the country's dependence on the mining industry. As Trevor Manuel of South Africa advised the MMD Government in November 2001, "the Zambian Government [should] ... quickly work towards the diversification of its exports as the era of single commodity dependence was long gone."
Economic diversification is essential if we are to pull the national economy out of the persistent dislocation which it has suffered since independence due to its over-dependence on the mining industry. Potential areas for such diversification shall include manufacturing, agriculture, agribusiness, tourism, gemstone mining, and hydro-electric power.
Economic diversification has been a recurrent theme in Zambia since the country's independence in October 1964. However, not much has been achieved to date in the country's quest to diversify its economy.
According to the Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR), there are several major themes of economic diversification which Zambia has sought to pursue over the decades with comparatively little achievement; they include the following:
1) Sector diversification: Reduction of the dominance of the copper mining sector by promoting agriculture, tourism, gemstone mining, and hydro-electric power;
2) Export diversification: Promotion of a variety of non-traditional exports (NTEs);
3) Resource-use diversification: The use of local raw materials in the production of goods and the provision of services;
4) Technological diversification: Movement from capital-intensive production technologies to appropriate labor-intensive technologies;
5) Scale diversification: Reduction in the dominance of large-scale production by enhancing the role of medium-scale and small-scale production activity;
6) Structural diversification: Strengthening of the production structure by promoting activities with high degrees of internal backward and forward linkages; and
7) Regional diversification: Tapping the comparative advantages of the different provinces in the country with the aim of uplifting the living standards of all the inhabitants and bringing about balanced regional growth and development.
There are many reasons why economic diversification into agriculture, agribusiness, tourism, manufacturing, gemstone mining and exportation, and hydro-electric power has not been fully pursued in Zambia, such as the following:
1) The initial lack of foresight by the UNIP government, which could not apparently foresee the possibility of steep decreases in copper prices and plummeting production levels;
2) Lack of political will to pursue economic diversification;
3) The historic legacy of colonialism which focused on mineral extraction in Zambia, agricultural production in Zimbabwe and tourism in Malawi; and
4) Poor implementation of the privatization process which led to the collapse of many non-mining sectors.
8. Industrial and Trade Strategy
An appropriate industrial and trade strategy is a critical element in our quest for sustainable and enhanced socio-economic development. From 1964 to 1991, our country was preoccupied with the implementation of "import-substitution" policies aimed at promoting the use of local inputs and the local manufacture of products traditionally imported into the country in order to reduce the demand for foreign exchange to import foreign products and inputs.
From 1992 to date, there has been a seemingly unplanned and slight shift toward an "export-oriented" strategy, whose emphasis is to promote the production of non-traditional exports (NTEs)—that is, commodities initially constituting only a small proportion of Zambia's export portfolio, if at all, which the Government has now decided to promote in its export drive. Let us consider the pros and cons of these two strategies.
1) Import Substitution: This is advantageous for a number of reasons; first, the local production of previously imported commodities benefits from an already existing local market for such commodities. Also, it is usually much easier to protect local suppliers of import substitutes from foreign competition and ensure that they have a stable local customer base than to aid them in gaining access to export markets. Moreover, import substitution can be a viable means of lessening Zambia's economic dependency on, and the linkage of its development prospects to the health of the economies of, foreign countries.
The major drawbacks with this strategy include the huge capital outlays required in setting up local industries to produce import substitutes, the greater unemployment which is likely to be brought about by the capital-intensive nature of the industries that may be set up, and the diseconomies of scale associated with creating industrial units to produce for a small and limited local market. Besides, import-substitute producers' dependence on imported capital and intermediate goods can lead to serious balance of payments (BOPs) problems.
Moreover, protected import-substitute suppliers can become lax and complacent and lead to gross inefficiency in protected "infant industries." Further, the opportunity cost associated with the concentration of resources in one industry is very high for a poor country.
2) An Export-Oriented Strategy: Advantages of this strategy include the economies of scale associated with local firms having access to a larger and unlimited potential market, and its potential to stimulate local industries to seek innovative ways and means of producing internationally competitive commodities.
Its major drawbacks emanate from the generally impermeable nature of export markets and, like the import-substitution strategy, the massive capital outlays needed to create a viable export industry, the high opportunity cost associated with the strategy, and the high level of unemployment which may result from the capital-intensive nature of an export-oriented industry.
3) A Strategy for Zambia: Zambia and other countries which have tried the import-substitution strategy have generally been unable to achieve desired end results. The export-oriented strategy, on the other hand, has generally proved to be potent in revamping a country's economy, as evidenced by the success story of the newly industrialized countries)—that is, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand—which have successfully used such a strategy.
Our beloved country, therefore, needs to pick a leaf from the tale of these countries and strive to export its way out of economic stagnation and despair by adopting an export-oriented trade and industrialization strategy.
However, we need to consider the prospect of providing for the protection of local "infant industries" over a stipulated period of time—that is, new and/or undeveloped business enterprises or groups of enterprises whose financial and competitive positions shall be ascertained to be weak and, therefore, incapable of competing effectively against strong foreign competitors in the local market.
9. National Competitiveness
To engender a steady flow of inventions, innovations and new product offerings, we shall create a stimulating environment for the conception of new ideas and products as follows:
1) Undertake a critical evaluation of existing policies, incentives, institutions, and educational programs designed to spur innovation and the generation of new forms of technology in order to identify those which have a greater potential to stimulate innovation, inventiveness and research and development (R&D);
2) Designate critical fields and areas where R&D is most desirable, since available resources are not adequate to support research projects that are presently of uncertain value to society;
3) Readily and adequately finance research projects (including projects by the Zambia Academy of Science), accept and utilize relevant and useful findings of the research projects that may be undertaken, and adopt recommendations that may be deemed to be useful for application in institutional settings;
4) Introduce a two-tier antitrust law designed to foster competition in the domestic market while simultaneously permitting and encouraging alliances among locally based business entities which venture in export markets so that they can develop innovative and technological competencies and become sturdy competitors in the international marketplace; and
5) Actively engage in multilateral R&D initiatives with willing countries worldwide through such arrangements as research institute "sisterships" and joint R&D pursuits.
10. South-South Cooperation
As maintained in the stipulations of the New African Initiative—which assumed the new name "New Partnership for African Development" or "NEPAD" in October 2001—most African countries (including Zambia) are small both in terms of population and per capita incomes. As a result, their limited markets do not provide attractive returns to potential investors.
And, among other effects, investments in agricultural, transportation, and other forms of essential infrastructure across uninhabited areas are inhibited. There is, therefore, a profound need for our country to maintain its current membership in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) in order to become more competitive and be in a better position to venture in the modern global economic system that is characterized by such powerful regional groupings as the European Union (EU), European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) blocs of countries.
There are many benefits associated with such membership:
1) The integration of national socio-economic systems can be a viable means by which cooperating countries can do away with the disadvantages of small size, and of making possible the attainment of desired levels of socio-economic development by exploiting both economies of scale and economies of scope;
2) The reduction or removal of trade barriers by cooperating countries can bring about a more competitive market regional environment;
3) The wider consumer and industrial markets created through integration of national economies can make it possible for cooperating countries to attract the foreign capital needed to boost business activity and increased levels of employment; and
4) The eventual creation of a monetary union can facilitate the creation of a larger and more stable financial market, eliminate exchange-rate variability, and eliminate the need for member-countries that may experience a decline in the demand for their export products to consider currency devaluations to make the export products competitive.
11. Wide and Genuine Consultation
There is a need for the government to seek the active involvement of the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU), Zambian Association of Manufacturers (ZAM), the Zambia Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ZFCCI), the Economic Association of Zambia (EAZ), and the Zambia Institute for Public Policy Analysis (ZIPPA) in the provision of decision inputs pertaining to commercial and industrial matters.
The involvement of such segments of Zambian society can make it possible for the government to generate sound socio-economic policies—policies which will make our beloved country to make a headway in its quest for heightened socio-economic development.
There is absolutely no reason why Zambia cannot create a socio-economic regime that can be emulated by other developing nations worldwide, given the fact that it is blessed with abundant natural endowments, including fertile soil, ideal weather conditions, an ideal system of perennial rivers, a wide range of wildlife, wide stretches of natural forests and grasslands, a wide assortment of mineral resources, and a sizeable population of peaceful and hard-working citizens.
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